The Otter Hiking Trail

May 2013  My wonderful Trip to Tsitsikamma to do the OTTER TRAIL (42.5 km in 4 1/2 days) with friends. It is tough but if you prepare yourself mentally and physically you can do it!! Hard hike, beautiful scenery, cold showers, hard beds… all worth it!! 

The Day before the Otter Trail: We drive to Tsitsikamma National Park were we stay the night before we start with the Otter Trail. We were a bit worried about the bad weather but hoped it would clear up before we started the next day. We spend the afternoon walking around and just relaxing. Oh and did I mention re-pack our back packs for about the 10th time to try and get it lighter… LOL mine was 17.5 kg and that was without water.

Day 1 of the Otter Trail: We had a very stormy night but the sky looked good for our 1st day. Then again the rest of our group is late as they did not sleep over but driving up from Cape Town. We book out of our bungalows and get the bookings ready for the trail… only to find out that we are not able to do the 1st stretch of the trail due to the bad weather and sea and will not be able to cross over the river. We get a lift down with the ranger to day one’s escape route path and then walk down a rather muddy and slippery path the rest of the way to the 1st stop.

Ngubu Huts: Once we have swept out the place (sadly not very clean) and put down our things, we decided to backtrack and go to the waterfall we could not cross. We were not going to miss out on that…

Our 1st night and Tanja discovers she has left her sleeping bag behind! The rest of the trip she used my thermal inner of my sleeping bag as it was not that cold and she and her husband shared a sleeping bag. At least she had her husband there… 🙂 We had a braai with the other part of our group and headed off the bed so that we could get an early start in the morning.

DSCN6526

Day 2 of the Otter Trail: After coffee and breakfast (Nature source mixed with powder milk and water) we set off on our 7.9 km hike of the day.  Many ups and downs.. but the view from the top is always worth that uphill that you thought would never end. The water along the way is not always safe to drink so we made sure we took enough water with us but we walked mostly in the shade and we took it easy and enjoyed the scenery.

We had our lunch break at the Kleinbos River and as you can see the guy with us was not fond of cold water and was wondering how to get over without having to swim… He found a way and with a bit of help we walked over quite easily.

We could see our huts down below and thought it was just around the bend… they never are:). We were happy to get to the Scott Huts were we had a nice cold shower, rinsed our clothes and collected wood for our fire as it was getting chilly. Then got our dinner ready and just relaxed around the fire. (Dinner was tuna mixed with instant rice) We even had a small Spotted Genet join us to see what was available for dinner.

Day 3 of the Otter Trail: The beds are covered in plastic and hard!! As tired as I was I did not sleep very well so got up early and decided to watch the sun come up and do a meditation. I was the only one lucky enough to spot an Otter and even get a photo of him as he was heading out to sea.

Day 3 is 7.7km and just as up and down as the 2nd day. Come to think of it I think day 2 and 3 are equally tough. We hoped over the Geelhoutbos River next to the huts and started out day not sure what waited for us at the Elandsbos River Mouth.

The other half of our group are having a tea break.

Elandsbos River Mouth was fine to cross, but some people just have to find the pot holes and sink in all the way to their waist and get wet. Then again others are brave and go for a cold swim…

At the bottom of the hill we stopped and watch a bokkie just a few feet in front of us for a while before it ran off and then proceeded up a very steep long hill.

We had lunch at the top were we spotted a whole school of dolphins far down below.

The Lottering River was too high to walk over and no way around so we had to strip and carry our things over. Most of us ended up getting holes in our big red bags from the rocks (there is no sand were you can put your backpack onto while trying to put it into the red bag) and got a few of our things wet. Why is it that nobody told us that we might have to swim over this river?? Well it was cold but not too deep. We got over to the Oakhurst huts and had to do some drying of shoes and a few other items. Not really a clever idea as one of the ladies ended up half melting our water shoes and her own hiking boots. But they still work fine…. ha, ha (part of the fun). We were all rather tired and had an early dinner (tuna and yellow savoury rice). We were in bed by 7 and found it rather funny but knew we had to get up very early the next morning.

Day 4 of the Otter Trail: We were up at 4 am, packed and ready by 5 am for the 13.8 km hike ahead of us. We knew that low tide was at 11 am at the Bloukrans River but trying very hard to prepare ourselves to swim over link most hikers do… It really is not much fun hiking in the dark and if it was not for our man in the group we would not have pushed so hard but nobody know how far it was to get to the river so we had to move it…

Maxine slips and almost goes all the way over the edge at about 8 that morning. Gave us quite a scare… OB’s calmed our nerves so that we could continue with the hike.

We could not believe our eyes when we say how low the tide was down below. Our lucky day!!! We walk over the Bloukrans River and stop for a early lunch and to catch our breath before we do the last +- 3 hours hike. It really is a LONG day!

What we did not realize is that we had to do some rock climbing next… not too bad but tough on the knees.

Once again we see our huts down below but have quite a slow hill climb to get there. Oh and some stupid people tell you that you can order a pizza and beer on the 3rd night of the Otter Trail. That is a really stupid lie as there is no way anyone can come down either end to deliver anything like that!!! Thankfully we did not listen to this… so make sure you DO take food for ALL the nights. This was the best hut of the lot… The Andre Huts. Even your toilet and shower have great view of the sea. The sea was a bit cold but the brave did venture in and swim.

Sunset was stunning while we prepared our dinner and a bit of time around the fire. Chocolate was found and enjoyed thoroughly be all…

Day 5 of the Otter Trail: We get up a bit later than the previous days and hike the last 6.8 km to the finish line. There is 1 very steep uphill but once you reach to top its mostly flat to the end with a lot of Proteas along the way.

This is the end but it is actually not the end… you still have to hike down and all along the beach and then to the pub were we left one of the cars to take us back to Storms River.

Crossing the last of the rivers on the beach & The last few miles to the pub to celebrate, feels like the longest past of the hike. And Tanja finds her sleeping bag in the car…

Will I Hike the Otter again? Yes I would love to do it again but there are so many beautiful hikes to do I don’t know if I will get a chance but at least I can tick it off my bucket list of hikes to do!